“Take a little word, and repeat it.”

As we have seen in this month’s posts, Mennonites are being taught a silent prayer practice that involves finding a quiet place to sit comfortably, choose a meaningful word/phrase that helps them focus on God, and be absolutely still and quiet while letting thoughts go and mentally reciting their word/phrase for 20 minutes.

This month, Menno-lite has been shining a light on such contemplative practices endorsed by the Mennonites. This article by Ray Yungen flows along the same lines…

The Cloud of Unknowing – “Take a little word, and repeat it.”

The Cloud of Unknowing, written by an anonymous monk, has passed under the radar of many church libraries, Christian bookstores, and theological seminaries and colleges. But this book is a primer on mystical contemplative spirituality. Check your church library and see if this book is sitting on the shelves.

by Ray Yungen

To my dismay, I discovered ‘mystical silence’ is accomplished by the same methods used by New Agers to achieve their silence–the mantra and the breath! Contemplative prayer is the repetition of what is referred to as a prayer word or sacred word until one reaches a state where the soul, rather than the mind, contemplates God. Contemplative prayer teacher and Zen master Willigis Jager brought this out when he postulated:

Do not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting must cease, as all mystical writers insist. Simply”sound” the word silently, letting go of all feelings and thoughts.( Jager, Contemplation, p. 31)

Read more of this enlightening excerpt from A Time of Departing, here:


UPDATE: In light of this, also see:

Centering Prayer Method – True Prayer or Muddy Delusion?


12 thoughts on ““Take a little word, and repeat it.”

  1. I was wondering how or if “Listening Prayer” ties in with contemplative prayer. I am troubled by what I have experienced. Listening prayer is used to heal, find out your purpose and answer any questions a person may have by being quiet and listening for the voice of Jesus. Jesus is asked/invited to appear in visions. This teaching is making its way into Mennonite churches and other denominations. Do you have any concerns?

    • Lori,

      You are right to have concerns, especially when visualization is being used to try to contact Jesus. Some of the same methods used in listening prayer are practiced by those who contact and channel spirit guides (demons). This is a serious matter, as the Bible says that Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light, therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14,15).

      If you haven’t already read it, you may find the following post interesting:
      B.C. Mennonite Church Allowing Contemplative Spirituality to be Taught

      If you want to discuss this further, my e-mail is:


  2. Re
    “Jesus is asked/invited to appear in visions”

    I am thankful to God that, you Lorie, are troubled by what you “have experienced”.
    There are high profile Mennonite leaders who have turned their ears from the Biblical Truth and turned to experiential truth, mystical truth, spiritual formation truth, as well as to Church Father’s truth. As a result the unsuspecting, uninformed, and obedient parishioners are accepting the teachings of these learned men. Those who are teaching, listening to God’s voice, visualization, prayer centering, spiritual formation, are proclaiming ‘another Jesus’ and ‘another gospel’.

    If a person is “born again”, Jon.3:7 or born “by the word of God”, 1Peter 1:23, he should love the Word of God not the word of men, who err as the Sadducees erred about the resurrection, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” Mt.22:29. Those who truly know the scriptures well, will love the Word enough to obey it, not because they are told to, but because they truly love their Savior and Lord.

    The Bible clearly tells us how we may know that we know Jesus and His Father, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” 1Jn. 2:3-5. It is not about hearing the ‘voice’ of Jesus but knowing and obeying the Word of God.

    In Heb. 1:1-3 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” In these last days, God has spoken by His Son and therefore we should not look to hear other voices.

    The true followers of Jesus need to know God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit, not another spirit, guide them according to God’s will. Rom. 8:14. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God”.

    John 3:7

  3. Re:
    “Jesus is asked/invited to appear in visions”

    A testimony by a XY who was in the New Age movement.

    In my search for the truth I became involved in the New Age movement and did some of the things we were taught. At first I was impressed with the results that I experienced. It gave me a good feeling-I knew things other people did not. While I was continuing my search for the truth, some Christens invited me to their Bible study. After I had attended the Bible study for some time I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.

    I looked for an MB church, because I had been told that the Mennonites study their Bible. As a result of this knowledge I found an MB Church and became a member because they read, “the Book”.

    After several years in the Church I noticed some changes taking place, “New Age exercises for the ladies” in the church, how could this be? How could the New Age teaching be in the Church? This could/should not be, but it was. I was told that this could be a wholesome activity not realizing the source.

    When I read that some of todays MB churches are teaching “listening to the voice of Jesus” or “inviting Jesus to appear in a vision”, I cannot comprehend how MBs, who I thought were brought up with the Word of God, could be so easily deceived.

    When I was in the New Age movement I occasionally heard voices. Also there were times, I supernaturally received information that I could not have known any other way, These were brought about by the master deceiver, not by God or the Holy Spirit. Even after I had become a Christian I felt the demonic oppression at times, but God by His grace and mercy has given me victory over that.

    These spirits that appear to some of the people these days, remind me of the apparition that King Saul consulted at En-dor.

    We “as born of God” believers NEED to know Jesus according to the Word of God, not according to the voice of Jesus. In Matthew we read “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Mt.4:4.

    Jesus promised that “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away”, Mr 13:31. Also in Matthew “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away”, Mt. 24:35.

    Jesus said “63 It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”, John 6:63 Is this not enough for His children? God’s children SHOULD NOT search for a voice apart from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

    The Bible warns us, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” 2Ti 3:13. In 2 Timothy 4:4 we read “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”,

    I would plead with you to repent and turn from the deceiving spirit while you are still able.

    “Once I was blind, but now I See”.

    John 3:7

  4. I was also in the New Age movement, back in the hippie era, and have now been in a plain church for a long while. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s meditation was openly part of eastern religions and it had been brought in by the Beatles with their Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, their own personal guru. Transcendental Meditation it was called — my generation jumped into it without any cautions whatsoever.

    Why would someone want to sit and “take a little word, and repeat it”? It seems like a pointless, stupid activity. It doesn’t make logical sense! Yet we did it all the time. This chanting was a mantra, a Sanskrit term for a verbal prayer or sound (“OM”, for example) which was chanted over and over repetitively until one’s mind was abandoned. The reason this appealed to us was because it promised things like serenity, joy, detachment, attunement to God, spiritual power, and a connection with the universe. It also was promoted as a way to get “high,” like drugs.

    Getting “high” and practicing meditation were both ways to attain an altered state of consciousness. It was a way of leaving or avoiding reality. Emptying the mind.

    But there was another aspect to this. The meditation promised a higher spirituality, a path on the way to nirvana or perfection. Once we began to meditate we opened ourselves to the occult — and if we ALSO used drugs it made it even easier. The mystical realm of meditation is quite exhilarating at first. It produces feelings and experiences of heightened awareness and even ecstasy. But one can also encounter the demonic, and eventually we had these encounters in one form or another. That which seems light and peaceful can so quickly switch over to dark and dreadful!

    But in this whole discussion don’t miss the point about the reason WHY meditation is becoming so popular again today. The most significant thing about engaging in this meditation/contemplation is that it was a useful TOOL. It isn’t simply an end in and of itself. The PURPOSE of altering our consciousness in the hippie era was to change our BELIEFS! Slowly (or sometimes quite rapidly) our attitudes, our values, our morals, our entire worldview….. began to shift over to an eastern mindset. We adopted new doctrines, new ways of looking at the world, new ways of seeing, new ways of believing,… and worse ways of behaving.

    We “opened ourselves up.” That’s what we called it — it means we made ourselves “open” to “new things.” Meditation made us amenable to accepting new ideas and religions. We began to reject our Christian background and accept the seductive promises of a higher form of spirituality. Note that the practice of meditation, a mere act, gave us the illusion that we were invincible, co-creators, and emerging to a higher form of being human. And during that euphoria we came to adopt the entire eastern evolutionary belief system.

    Once one lets go of their mind and permits it to go blank, it does not remain an empty slate. Other things come to fill the void. The exact opposite of this is meditating on God’s Word, which is a wonderful practice in which verses can sometimes feed us for many hours with encouragement and strength. And we use our mind (not abandon it) when we meditate on Scripture. We are blessed by the indwelling Holy Spirit who brings that Word alive to our inner man. (2 Cor. 2:16)

    But this mind-altering, mind-emptying meditation is nothing more than an exercise in how to abandon discernment, letting go of all restraints, no longer resisting evil. And this is the point. If we let down our guard, and no longer resist the devil, he needs no longer to flee from us. (James 4:7) 1 Thess 5:6 states: “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” Sleep is precisely what happens during meditation. The active awareness parts of the brain shut down. We are no longer capable of being watchful and alert. And worse, we are not sober because meditation produces an altered state of consciousness that is not unlike being “high,” drunk, intoxicated, etc.

    Scripture instructs us: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” (I Peter 1:13) The Gospel of salvation in Christ Jesus is the real “power of God” and this is our blessed hope in this world and the world to come. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (Rom. 1:16a)

    • Thank you very much for your excellent comments, Clara. I hope that those reading here will learn from the very important point(s) you have made. God bless you!

      • Yes, thank you, Clara! Some years back, I suddenly backslid into a deep pit. It happened, it seemed, in the blink of an eye. I have prayed that the Lord would show me how it happened, as instruction so that I would not repeat that tragic episode in my life. Finally, I received some light from this website in general, and specifically in your comments.

        Seeking a ‘higher spirituality’, and ‘ecstatic experiences’ (aka getting high- although I did not realize it at the time) led me away from the actual Scriptures and to subjective experiences. I opened myself up to deception. When temptation came, I had no strength left to fight; I had no anchor to hold me steady. There was no ‘resisting of evil’, only a desire to ‘go inward’ and escape reality. Instead of following James 1:21, and laying aside wickedness and receiving the Word with meekness, I became a critical interpreter of the Word. I refused to hear those who were trying to show me truth at that time. I became proud and self-sufficient. We all know that pride comes before the fall.

        In His great mercy, God allowed me to fall very hard and disciplined me quite strongly. Then, in even greater mercy, He allowed me to come back to Himself and the true Word. He has brought me back to a church that teaches the Word and not popular ‘doctrine’. I praise His name for His kind dealings with me in rescuing me from deception.

  5. In gratitude to this website for bringing to light some of the error and the horror of the emergent church.
    If churches of any denomination were better grounded in Scripture to begin with, rather than being preoccupied with the latest popular author, we would have more believers and fewer make-believers in them.
    If today’s Mennonites for the most part would drop the name Mennonite (for they no longer reflect Menno Simon’s beliefs),
    If churches and seminaries who reject the infallibility of Scripture would drop the name Christian,


    But that is not Satan’s way. His is the way of deception. So people go along thinking they are becoming involved in something “Mennonite” or even “Christian,” even as they are lured by some fun activity or sunny ‘outreach.’
    My dear husband when he married me, thought he was marrying into a Christian church, for at that time, Mennonites still had such a reputation. The identical thing happened to a friend who married a Mennonite, assuming he was a Christian. She had a broken life and knew she needed to fix it, so she thought she could marry into ‘it’. Her hubby not knowing the difference between decent and Christian, couldn’t correct her in this. It wasn’t till years later in a church not related to Mennonites, that this ‘Mennonite’ was born again.
    Many words, to say, we Mennonites are so used to good works and decency, so ‘nice,’ pacifist, not offensive, that we have failed to JUDGE when in fact, God commands us to PROVE all things. We are too NICE to correct error. We are too NICE to be so harsh as to REPROVE what we once knew to be SIN.
    “Iron sharpens iron,” ‘faithful are the wounds of a friend.” “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
    It is so pleasant to be loved for one’s work ethic, reputation for reliability, sweetness, etc, who wants to reprove people and risk losing ‘friends?’ “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

    And so the slide begins.

    With disobedience, comes loss of discernment. If allowed to continue, with time, truth is traded for lies.
    And it seems the more ‘educated’ we Mennonites become, the further behind we leave the simplicity of the gospel.
    If Scripture is no longer sufficient (or even relevant) to reach today’s youth (and that is something I hear from youth leaders too often), then it is not Scripture that is irrelevant. It is the non-hearer (non-believer) thereof that is. “All liars shall have their part in the lake of fire.”
    When you study Scripture prayerfully, asking the Lord for understanding, how can you not see how miraculously completely accurate is the Word of God (providing you are reading a correct translation and not skewed interpretations–themselves the fruit of rebellion)? Brief note here, re the Bible versions. As a tribute to the cleverness of Satan, and to our own gullibility, just for a time like this, when precisely now we need to know that
    “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” this verse has been removed from modern ‘bible’ interpretations. Yet the emergents are leading people into ancient occultic practices that are an open invitation for demons to inhabit the practitioner.

    Compare Scripture to current events and you must surely see that we are at the brink of eternity for many, and the end of this period we know as the age of grace, almost into the next dispensation, when the Lord begins to deal once again with the nation Israel and the unbelieving world. (Oh yes, that sort of thinking is what has the emergents label ‘fundamental’ Bible believing Christians, dangerous, the source of hatred in this world.)

    Let’s stop deceiving ourselves. If you reader, are toying with apostasy, remember that we have a mutual adversary. I am not your enemy. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].” Having your ears Tickle(d) (Phyllis will help you..) is indeed but a momentary thing. Our days are so brief, eternity so forever, no turning back….consider it. For me it is too terrible to contemplate more than for a moment, let alone having to experience the rewards of turning your back on the authority of Scripture.

    ‘Satan had desired to have you, to sift you as wheat.’ Are you ‘willingly deceived?’ Have you a heart for your children? Is the delusion already so dark you cannot repent even for the sake of your children, if not for yourselves? What of the flocks you lead to the slaughter? “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”

    Why not each of us examine ourselves, to see if we are in the faith, and proceed from there as we must. How much better: “As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

    This is a time of apostasy, sifting, and deepening delusion. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. ”

    It is just so painful when it involves the people you call mother, father, sister, brother.

    Let us not despair, but keep looking up, redemption draws nigh. Let us not give up ever on praying for the people we love. GOD has not changed. He is still not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.

  6. Pingback: Mennonites and the Meaning of Mantra Meditation « Menno-lite

  7. Pingback: Should Christians be encouraged to Love or Leave the Labyrinth? « Menno-lite

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